Friday, February 17, 2012

Sam Aluko, 1929-2012 - an Embodiment of Principled Pragmatism

16 February 2012


The death of Professor Sam Aluko on February 7, 2012, at a London hospital, marked the end of an embodiment of versatility with a rare consistency.

It has been said that it would be hard, if not totally impossible, to come across a living Nigerian who, in pedigree, can stand at par with the late tutor, politician, community leader and highly principled statesman.

Professor Aluko was born in Ode-Ekiti, Ekiti State, on August 18, 1929. Between 1936 and 1940, he attended St Mary's Primary School, Ode-Ekiti. He later went briefly to Emmanuel School, Ado-Ekiti, before moving to Christ School, Ado-Ekiti, from 1941 to 1945. Between 1948 and 1949, the late Aluko was at Nigeria's premier higher institution, Yaba Technical Institute, from where he travelled on scholarship to the United Kingdom to study Economics at the London School of Economics between 1955 and 1959.

It was during his studies in London that his principled approach to matters of state crystallised. For instance, regardless of being sponsored by the Western Region government headed by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Aluko constantly and constructively criticised the budgetary provisions of the government.

This audacious stance led to the temporary withdrawal of his scholarship by the government. However, during the 1957 Constitutional Conference in London, Chief Awolowo invited him over for dinner and subsequently restored his scholarship. The late economist impressed the late sage considerably, as shown by their formidable relationship afterwards.

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